My Adventures with Learning How to Use Scrivener

Tech Support

Well, I took a few hours to take the Scrivener tutorial and I have this to say about it:

I didn’t cry once.

If you know me personally, you understand why this is a big deal. Six Tips for Writers for Dealing with Icky Technological Stuff 

I am terrible with anything technological, but I’m trying really hard to embrace it. It’s important for any writer who is serious about the business aspect of writing not to shy away from the tough stuff. Like a lot of writers, I’m an airy-fairy creative type, and I find technological stuff quite intimidating. I am generally a patient person, but I freely admit that when I’m learning something techy and complicated, I well, I absolutely lose my shit. However, I know in the long run, technology can often save a significant amount of time. As you know, time is invaluable to a writer.

So! I was fortunate enough to have some down time between when one day job ended and another one began, so I decided to take some time to learn Scrivener. If case you don’t know, Scrivener is a drafting program designed to help writers organize their material as they write. It works for novelists, screenwriters, thesis-writers, and pretty much any other kind of writing that requires research and organization. It’s surprisingly affordable, it’s only about forty bucks and it’s available for both Mac and PCs. Check out Scrivener.

I spent several hours going through the tutorial, and I found it amazingly easy to use. I loved that it was a written manual, not a video one, so it was easy to start at stop at my leisure. I felt my brain getting kind of full at around the 45 minute to one hour mark, so I was able to stop when I felt like I needed a break. The manual is clear and explains things in an easy, step-by-step method. If you give yourself a little time to learn it, you’ll be a master in no time. I am now using Scrivener for both my blogging and my novel writing and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

Briefly, here’s what it can do for you:

– You can keep all your research for your project all in one place. Your files are all kept in a Binder on the lefthand side of your screen.

– You can break your work down into as many files as you want. I am currently writing a paranormal romance series, and many of the characters and locations appear in all three books. So, I have my character bios – broken down by each character in a different file – and my research on locations, facts, and more are located in the binder.

– You can easily break your book down into an individual file for each chapter. When you’re done, you simply export the book and it will combine all the chapters into one.

– You can keep your outline (if you’re an outliner/ plotter like me) there for quick and easy reference.

– You can easily split the screen and work on two docs at once. I LOVE this feature when I’m working with a beta reader. I keep the critiqued chapters on the bottom of the screen while I work on the draft at the top.

– You can save all your work on the whole project all at once. I used to painstakingly save all my individual docs that I had open (which was a lot) one at a time, first on Google Drive then on my key as backup. Now ALL the docs are in one place and you get to save the whole project all at once.  ** a word of warning. So far Google Drive doesn’t play nice with Scrivener, nor does One Drive. You DON’T want to save your project on the C Drive because your drive could crash and you could lose all your work. Dropbox is a great place to save your work since it’s a cloud. I use Dropbox then save it on my key once in a while as an extra backup. **

– When you’re done with your book draft, you can export it to another format, such as word. You can even export it to ebook format, though I haven’t tried that yet and I’m sure it would need additional, manual formatting after that.

Believe me, if I was able to use Scrivener successfully and immediately, a blind, deaf, monkey with its hands tied behind its back can do it. The authors of the Scrivener tutorial seem to realize that they are dealing with right-brained, temperamental, writerly types and offered encouragement accordingly throughout. Every once in a while, they encourage you to take a break and enjoy some tea and a biscuit (if you’re in the U.S., substitute with coffee and a donut).

All I can say is that I have found Scrivener to be well worth the relatively small amount of time and money investment. Now that I’m back to work full time while raising two kids and running a household, it’s really saved me time and gotten me organized.

What about you? Have you used Scrivener? Do you love it as I do??

  • Linda Fausnet

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